Monday, 4 June 2007

Psychoanalysis is science fiction

'Psychoanalysis is detective work,' says Peter Brooks (giving voice to a common perspective on the matter) 'seeking to reconstruct from clues scattered in the present a past story that explains a scene of crime or suffering.' It's time to let this notion go. It's a misreading of Freud, this emphasis on the past. The point of psychoanalysis, if we can put it like that, is not the past but the present and future. Or to put it another way, the past is relevant to the psychoanalyst only insofar as it can figure as a trope for the future--like Philip K Dick's 1950s settings that turn out to be 21st-century futures, or Star Wars's WWII fighters and bombers that actually zip through outer space. Nor is detection the key thing here, so much as imaginative creation and recreation, the metaphorical apprehension of what happens to be the case in order to project an imaginatively coherent otherness. Which is to say, psychoanalysis is not detective work; it is science fiction.

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